President & CEO, FirstService Corp., Toronto“Success is something that you always strive for and hopefully never achieve, at least not until you finally pass away. And hopefully somebody else will determine whether you’ve been successful in retrospect. If you start thinking that you’re successful, you lose your edge.
“That said, success means I have the absolute pleasure of working with great entrepreneurs in our different service lines. These are people who are very smart business leaders in their industries, and are driven to succeed by the same kind of mentality I am, which is always to keep moving up to that next plateau. Other than that, my success hasn’t allowed me to do anything I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I don’t think my life would have been any different today if I’d stuck with what I started out doing, which was practising law.”
President Lise Watier CosmÃ©tiques Inc., Montreal“Success is achieved when we reach any set goal. Over time, our goals change, and we reach further. Hence, personal success never seems to be fully achieved. I have two goals that have always guided me. The first is to help women achieve well-being, by building the self-confidence we experience through feeling beautiful. In hearing that I am a source of inspiration to a teenager, or discovering that I have helped a woman feel beautiful through several stages of her life, I know that my efforts have brought me success. The second goal is always to have a generous heart. I strive to give back to society. Varying degrees of professional success may influence the number of people I am able to help, but a simple generous gesture can change a life. By providing opportunities for others and encouraging them to pursue their dreams, I truly feel successful.”
Chairman & CEO, Four Seasons Hotels Inc., Toronto“Success is complete independence. Choices. And choices are a privilege. Success lets you determine the course of action you might take in life, in dealing with family, dealing with community and dealing with business. And it’s a privilege I look upon with great sensitivity, knowing that it can be fleeting.
“I didn’t really have any driving ambitions to be where I am today. I wasn’t setting a career path for myself. I was just allowing my life to unfold as an adventure. But I think what success has done is really allowed me to share with so many more people. So many other lives have been improved because of the success of the company. And that is probably the top satisfaction for me. Beyond that, it’s allowed me to be responsible, to support philanthropic and community things, and to make sure that my family has some security for its future.”
CEO, Lululemon Inc., Vancouver“Success would be the feeling of total control over your life. What’s the point of being successful unless you’re running your life the way you want to? Everyone might see that a bit differently, whether it’s the time you spend with your family, how you want to learn or how you want to give back to your community. It’s doing all those things that give you a tingling feeling in your life. You could have it with making a dollar a year, or making billions a year. But even people who make a lot of money might not be able to say that they have total control over their life.
“Being successful has allowed me to spend more time with my family and be more proactive in my life. It has allowed me to do my part to take the world from mediocre to great. Until your business is up and going, it’s hard to do that full-time. You’re balancing between survival and doing what you can to make the world a better place.”
Chair, Energy Savings Income Fund, Toronto“Success is generating value for my shareholders. I run an income fund, so I have to distribute cash to my unitholders on a monthly basis. In order to do that, I have to have a stable, predictable and, hopefully, growing cash-flow stream. The fact that we’ve been successful means I can give back to the community financially. I can help causes that are near and dear to my heart, and that is a very important part of my life. For example, I built a centre for the research and clinical trials into autoimmune diseases at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. I support I-Cross, an amazing organization that deals directly with AIDS patients in Kenya. I support the Royal Ontario Museum and I contribute to a number of scholarships for children.”
Chairman & CEO, Sleeman Breweries Ltd., Guelph, Ont.“Success means achieving my goals. I set goals for myself all the time, and for me success is based on the achievement of those goals. Sometimes it means having time to relax and enjoy the company of my family and friends. It may mean achieving market-share goals or financial goals. Even though I still work 70 or 80 hours a week, such success means I enjoy time with my family in circumstances that I haven’t been able to before. In my 20s, I certainly couldn’t afford to take them to Africa on a safari.
Money isn’t the be-all and end-all. Quality of life is more important. But if you have a reasonably successful financial side, it allows you to do things that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. To me, that translates into one-of-a-kind holidays with my wife and kids. I just got back from the Great Wall of China. We have been to the Middle East and inside the pyramids.”
President, Swift Trade Inc., Toronto“Success means that I’m content with what I’m doing and with who I am. I don’t believe in measuring success in material ways. I am very successful right now, by my definition. I have a business that is doing very well, I have a beautiful wife, I have two beautiful kids. For me, success comes from within. Because I’m happy, I have the drive and positive energy to achieve things that I would otherwise not have been able to, like expand the business and spend more time with my family. Yes, I live in a big house in a nice neighbourhood, but I really don’t believe that having material things makes you successful or happy.”
Co-founder, Inniskillin Wines Inc., Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.“Success is a moving target throughout one’s life. But I suppose it’s about living life to the fullest in business and in your personal and spiritual life, with the freedom to choose. It means leaving the office in mid-December to go to Aspen and do extreme skiing and powder skiing. It’s the ability to pursue my passions on my terms. That includes giving back to the community. Because you’re successful, you can do something like be chairman of the capital campaign for Niagara College’s Hospitality School. We’ve just finished building a $10-million hospitality centre, which includes a restaurant, a training theatre and a chef school. It’s about helping young people, because I remember what it was like to be young and struggling.
“Success has created a platform from which I can speak, whether it be to create a better community, to set an example for others or to give back and enjoy life. I helped establish the wine industry in Canada, and that means I can stand up and make statements that people have to listen to. Twenty-five years ago, no one would have cared what I had to say. Now, my ability to stand up and take a position sways people.”
© 2005 Laura Pratt